Fentanyl surfaces in Cape Breton
Cape Breton Regional Police have now recorded their first seizure of the deadly opiate fentanyl.
Police seized some 30-40 pills of the synthetic opioid Thursday after a search of two homes in Glace Bay that also netted more than 7,000 other pills with a combined street value of $180,000.
“We knew there was a possibility it (fentanyl) was in our area but now this is very concerning,” said police spokesperson Desiree Vassello.
She said the pills seized this week will be tested by Health Canada to confirm the presence of fentanyl which has created an opiate crisis in Canada as overdose deaths across the country continue to mount.
Two Glace Bay residents have been charged in connection with the drug and are scheduled to return to provincial court Tuesday for bail hearings.
Charged are Elliot Gerard Gouthro, 43, of Cadegan Drive, and Candice Marguerite MacIntyre, 31, of the same address.
Both are charged with five counts of possession for the purpose of trafficking in fentanyl, hydromorphone, oxycodone, dextroamphetamine and methylphenidate (Ritalin).
They are also charged with possession of a weapon (a Mauser rifle) with no licence, possession of a prohibited weapon (an ASP baton), careless storage of ammunition and careless storage of a rifle.
Gouthro is also charged with two counts of uttering threats and four counts of breaching court orders by failing to keep the peace, refrain from using a cell phone and two weapon possession counts.
At the time of his arrest Thursday, Gouthro was on release conditions
for unrelated offences. The fentanyl crisis began on the West Coast and moved east and now Cape Breton joins other Atlantic communities reporting the drug surfacing in their areas such as Halifax, Fredericton, N.B., and St. John’s, NL.
Vassello said police are urging drug users to exercise caution in their street level drug purchases because so many pills are now being laced with fentanyl.
Earlier this year, the Ally Centre of Cape Breton issued a warning concerning bootleg oxycodone pills that were circulating in the local area and reportedly contained fentanyl.
At time of the warning, the centre’s executive director Christine Porter said although oxycodone hasn’t been produced since 2012, counterfeit pills were showing up locally and drug users had no idea what the pills actually contained.
Pill presses to make the bootleg pills can be purchased over the Internet.
As part of national strategy to combat the problem, the centre and regional police are now equipped with naloxone kits — a drug that temporarily reverses the effects of an opioid drug overdose.
Vassello said all 202 officers with the regional force now carry the kit.
She said since the beginning of the year, the kit was used to successfully revive one potential overdose victim.
Porter said the centre offers training for those using such kits.
“You don’t have to come to us, we can come to you, and we can train right in your home,” said Porter.